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February 2010


FEATURES

Bottoms Up
By Liz Arnold

IN WAINSCOTT, A TIMBER-FRAME UPSIDE-DOWN HOUSE KEEPS SCALE AND PROPORTION IN MIND AS IT MAKES WAY FOR OCEAN VIEWS

Click on any photo for a larger gallery view.

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WIDE-EYED WONDER
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W hen an investment banker and his wife first viewed an oceanfront property in Wainscott, they didn't let the sleepy old beach house, low and tucked into the land behind a dune, obstruct their vision for a Shingle-style vacation home with views of the water.

In fact, they saw straight over it, literally: Before closing the deal, and along with architects from the South Norwalk–based firm Shope Reno Wharton Associates, the couple, who has two daughters, climbed into a cherry picker and rose 20 feet in the air until they could see past the dune and overgrowth to the water beyond.

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"That's how we determined where the second floor would be," says architect Jerry Hupy, the partner in charge. Senior partner Bernard Wharton set the design direction of the timber-frame upside-down-style house, which places all the common areas on the higher floors. "You want to see the water," Hupy continues, "but you don't necessarily want to see the people on the beach—if they're even there."

And so the firm, which has worked with the couple on other residences, began with its third project with the pair, one where living spaces—kitchen, dining room, living room and master bedroom—would comprise the entire second floor. "The biggest thing for them was to have it all wide open, so there are no walls," Hupy says. "You see straight out to the ocean." Decks and porches extending from French doors help take advantage of sweeping southern views; the grown children's bedrooms and a guest suite are all on the ground floor.

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WATERFRONT DINING
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"I didn't want it to look like an upside-down house," said the husband, who feared disproportion. "I wanted it to look like a regular house." The architects understood his aesthetic preference: The porch on the upper level is the same size as the one below it, and the shingled tiers are purposefully wide and stately to appropriately respond to the grandness of the house. "From a structural standpoint, they don't need to be that big," says Hupy, "but from a visual standpoint, they do. You don't want to have spindly stilts. You have to consider the overall architecture. The house demands this size."

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